Roast potatoes could contain harmful chemicals if overcooked
It follows claims crispy roast potatoes, triple-cooked chips, thin pizza bases and even a humble slice of toast could cause cancer.
A new European Union food hygiene directive, due to be adopted in the UK by the the end of the year, will see every food outlet in the country warned take reasonable steps to reduce acrylamide in food or face enforcement measures and a hefty fines.
Kitchens will be offered tips on how to reduce acrylamide in food which will also be used by the Food Standard Agency’s enforcement team to judge whether levels are unacceptably high.
There are fears that burnt toast could cause cancer
The guide will include colour charts designed to show chefs which shades of yellow and brown are safe for cooked chips and potatoes to match.
It will also advise chefs to buy types of potatoes which are low in starch and blanch chips and potatoes before frying or roasting, and cooking them at a lower heat and for less time.
The crackdown comes even though scientists said the authorities are “massively overreacting” as there is no proof of a link between the consumption of acrylamide – which forms when potatoes and grain-based items are cooked in temperatures hotter than 120C – and cancer in humans.
The FSA advice is based on experiments on mice, rather than any studies showing that acrylamide causes cancer in people.
Chefs are being warned not to overcook their Yorkshire puddings
We are also mindful that many people enjoy crispy roast potatoes as part of their dinner
British Beer and Pub Association
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Dr Lisa Ackerley, food safety adviser at the British Hospitality Association, the body which is producing the guidance, attempted to reassure caterers.
She told the Daily Telegraph: "Everyone is in the same boat and all restaurants need to reduce acrylamide if then can.
“Thankfully because consumer awareness improving now, customers will be more likely to understand why restaurants are not serving overdone products several months down the line."
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A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association which represents pubs in the UK, said: "We have made members aware of the need to reduce acrylamide but we are also mindful that many people enjoy crispy roast potatoes as part of their dinner.
"We are hoping the FSA adopts a realistic and pragmatic approach with the new code, and will be resisting any attempts to enforce a chip fat controller approach."